William Lambe.

Water and vegetable diet in consumption, scrofula, cancer, asthma, and other chronic diseases .. online

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more directly conducive to that end.

Tins gentleman had, in May, 1813, used a vegetable regimen
for rather more than four years, prompted more by a principle
of humanity, and a conscientious feeling, than a mere regard to
health. He says that he never found the smallest inconvenience
from the change, but that, on the contrary, he has rather in-
creased in weight, and sensibly improved in health. On this
subject he declares : " I confidently believe that I am taking
the best means to enjoy life as long as it may continue. In
this respect I do affirm that the last four years have been equal
to any period between twenty and the present time, and cer-
tainly better than the four years preceding the innovation."
Mr. Luckcock's age was at this time fifty-three.

It further appears that the writer, like most men of his time
of life, was not entirely free from constitutional disease. His
words on this subject are : " About fifteen years ago a slight
hemorrhage made its appearance with me, and has gradually
increased to a degree which, under less favorable circum-
stances, might well excite considerable alarm, and it may even-
tually be fatal." From this statement I conclude that the
change of regimen has made no marked alteration in this
disease.

I repeat, then, that abstemiousness does not cure constitu-
tional disease; but it palliates, where to cure is obviously im-
possible. Even in aneurisms of the aorta, or dilatations of the
cavities of the heart, whatever good is possible must be looked
for in a treatment founded upon analogous principles. Such
was the practice proposed by Valsalva in these hopeless dis-
eases. He enjoined repeated bleedings, and a spare diet rigor-
ously persevered in; and we are assured by Albertini, in a



C8 VEGETABLE DIET

paper inserted in the meinoirs of the academy of Bologna,
"that young persons treated in this way have, in some in-
stances, been cured, and in others remarkably relieved; and
that old persons, and those in whom the complaint was already
far advanced, had at least found in this plan a more or less
powerful obstacle to its progress, and a prolongation of life."
Some examples of the utility of the practice are given in the
work from which this extract is made.

I do not think that an impartia'. exaraii.ation of facts will
allow us to attribute effects more favorable than those I have
described, to the use u a vegeta^^dle instead of the mixed diet
of common life, aided even by avoiding fermented liquors. They
are, as I have said, prolonging life to a certain degree, and
rendering disease more mild. But no instances have been
given of the eradication of deep constitutional disease, where the
symptoms were well marked and unequivocal. On the con-
trary, such symptoms have been known to arise under a strict
regimen of this kiad, of which, in the sequel, I shall cite some
examples.

I know that very different opinions on these subjects are
held both by practitioners and by the people. Persons who
have for years used the common diet without inconvenience,
say, that at some former period of tiieir lives they labored
under severe and dangerous illness, for which they were en-
joined to practice a rigid abstemiousness ; and to this practice
they ascribe their recovery. But I would ask, if the diet caused
their former illness, how happen they to bear a recurrence to
it without a recurrence of the symptoms ? It is clear, then,
that they do not think their disease was caused by the mixed
diet, but that there was some peculiar medicinal power in a
temporary abstemiousness. And that British practitioners in
general entertain similar ideas, is clear from the rigid absti-
nence they enjoin in acute diseases, under the name of the anti-
'phlogistic regimen. In this respect, the English are said to be
more strict than other nations. And it is thought that life
itself is preserved by this strictness.

Without at all disputing the propriety of this strictness for
I think it perfectly proper I must doubt greatly its efficacy,
at least as far as it claims to preserve life. For having seen
severe attacks of inflammatory disease, where a regimen of this
kind had been followed for months, and even for years ; having
even suffered in my own person an exceedingly severe inflara-
matory sore throat, when it had been followed very neaily two
years, I cannot but ask what effect can it be supposed to have



IN CHRONIC DISEASES. 69

on the issue of sucli a disease, when resorted to only on the
spur of the occasion, and continued for a few days, or it may
be for a few weeks ? I question not, then, that their issue de-
pends infinitely more upon the antecedent habits, than upon any
effect of regimen during their invasion. And if this be true, it
would seeiu that those foreigners who are much more sparing of
animal food in their daily habits, but much less rigid than the
English under illness, do not appear, in these respects, to be
less enlightened than our countrymen.

Under the influence of opinions, common to all British prac-
titioners, of the great importance of the antiphlogistic regimen
in inflammatory diseases, I myself proposed in a former work
(Inquiry into the Origin, Symptoms, and Cure of Constitutional
Diseases, p. 50), to render it more perfect, and, as I thought,
more efficacious, by attending to the fluid, as much as to the
solid matter used, and substituting pure instead of common
water. And I still think that I reasoned right, supposing the
common opinion to be just. But being now fully assured that
the operation of regimen of all kinds is, as far as it regards
the safety of the patient, exceedingly slow ; that the eftect of
the ingesta (of any kind whatever), upon the issue of these dis-
eases can, during the course of the disease, be hardly calculated ;
and that a strict attention to the antiphlogistic regimen itself
may tend to the comfort of the patient, but possess little or no
influence on the event ; being, I say, assured of these facts, I
think any moie minute attention than what is commonly paid,
would be frivolous and unnecessary.

I can therefore pay little attention to the relations of the ex-
traordinary benefits of vegetable diet, in persons who have
afterward used, for a length of time, the customary diet of the
country, Avithout perceptible injury. If, in fact, disease be
caused by diet, if not the immediate symptoms, still the dis-
eased state of the constitution is really attributable to this
source, the constitution should improve by a change of diet, and
either the same symptons, or at least the same diseased state of
constitution, should recur upon relapsing into the former habits.
Such only can be allowed to be a legitimate proof. In other
cases, such as I have alluded to, the abstinence enjoined may
have been beneficial, but the restoration to health must be con-
ceived to have been due to other causes.



i



70 ^'EGETABLE DIET



CHAPTER VI.

The objections to vegetable food: paleness and loss of fleshy that the
feeble require nourishing diet ; differences of constitution ; uneasiness
from vegetables ; that eating flesh injures only by excess ; that it is not
unfavorable to intellect ; that it has been found useful in disease.
How far liking justifies the practice. Fish, milk. The cookery of
vegetables.

In questions which must ultimatel}^ be decided by experience,
I know not Avliether it is necessary or useful to employ much
time in argument. Perhaps to lay a simple statement of the
facts before the public is the most proper and the most power-
ful argument tliat can be employed. If, therefore, I consider
shortly some of the objections which I have heard made to the
use of a vegetable regimen, it is because I have thought some
respect was due to the quarters from which they have pro-
ceeded ; and still more to popular opinion, which, it is unfortu-
nately too true, is vehemently adverse to it.

The palHdness and shrinking of the features and of the whole
body, which sometimes succeed the disuse of animal food, is
apt to excite an alarm, and a fear of essential and irretrievable
injury to the constitution. Let us consider how impossible it
is that this should be otherwise, and therefore how little is to
be apprehended from it.

Animal food commonly gives a more succulent habit, a
greater fullness, and, at the same time, a higher color to the
face. It may be suspected that all the fibres become softer ;
that the force of aggregation of the molecules which compose
them is diminished. In the healthy, the high color of the face
is not unpleasing, though coarse. In the lads in the service of
butchers it may be observed the most distinctly. In others of
feebler stamina it is an habitual flush.

This color it is which most imposes upon superficial observ-
ers. To see a pallid child or young person become more rudd}^
from what is called better living, is a pleasure w^hich it is diffi-
cult to resist ; and to observe the color fade from an opposite
treatment, without alarm, requires a thorough confidence in the
justness of principles, which the ignorant and the timid can
hardly be supposed to possess. It ought, therefore, to be con-
sidered what it really indicates.

In fact, what can it indicate but an excitation of all the small



IN CHRONIC DISEASES. 71

vessels of the face ? This excitat on cannot be supposed to be
confined to the surface of the cheeks, but must extend to all
the contiguous parts ; to the internal as well as the external ;
to the parts within the cranium as well as the integuments ; in
a word, to the organ which regulates and connects all the other
organs of the body to the brain itself. If, therefore, the use
of animal food be an unnatural custom, its primary operation is
to give an unnatural excitation to th i brain ; and all its conse-
quences of improved color, increased strength, and even of ap-
parently improved health, must be reckoned consequences of
this excitation.*

A further consequence is, that life is, in all its stages, hurried
on with an unnatural and unhealthy rapidity. We arrive at
puberty too soon ; the passions are developed too early :f in the
male they acquire an impetuosity approaching to madness; the
females breed too quick ; processes which ought to be distinct
and successive are blended together and confounded ; women
who ought to be nurses become pregnant, even with the child
at the breast ij finally, the system becomes prematurely ex-
hausted and destroyed : we become diseased and old when we
ought to be in the middle of life.

After all that has been said, I can hardly be so misunder-
stood as if I asserted all this to be, in fact, the operation of ani-

* Professor Sweetzer, of this city, in his interesting work on con-
sumption, remarks : " That if diet is superabundant and exciting, a ple-
thoric and inflammatory state of the system will be induced, highly in-
compatible with the equable and healthful play of the different functions,
and tending indirectly to waste the energies of life. How often is it that
fat, plethoric, flesh-eating children, their faces looking as if the blood
were just ready to ooze out, are with the greatest complacency exhibited
by their parents as patterns of health ! But let it be ever remembered,
that condition of the system popularly called rude or full health, and the
result of high feeding, is too often closely bordering on a state of disease."
The good sense of these remarks must be apparent to every one who
thinks. S.

t In all the cases of precocious menstruation and I have knowji a num-
ber such as in whom this function has appeared at the age of twelve
or thirteen years, there has been very free use of and a great desire for
flesh meat. I have been particular in noticing this fact.

I will admit that a very free use of milk, eggs, butter, salt, and other
stimulants, might easily cause preocious puberty, without the use of
flesh, especially in the hot-bed and unnatural life of cities. S.

X I have known more cases than one in the city of New York of flesh-
eating mothers, of very feeble health, who yet have become pregnant,
time after lime, on an average of nearly every year, and each and every
time after the first, while the child was yet at the breast. Tue undue
stimulus of animal food has e\'idently a strong influence in these cases oi
premature pregnancy. S



72 VEGETABLE DIET

mal food alone. All the habitual irritations appeir to have
similar effects on the body ; they stimulate to excessive action,
which is followed by premature exhaustion. But I cannot
doubt that such would be the operation of animal food alone, i'^
every other cause of disease were removed. An experiment
which, as I have heard, lias often been made upon chickens,
illustrates its general action on animal bodies.* They feed
hens upon flesh, to make them lay eggs faster. Every thing,
therefore, that has been said in favor of animal diet ; of its
strengthening, and invigorating, and fattening, and so forth,f
may be perfectly true ; and still the consequences drawn from
these appearances may be false, and its use may be, notwith-
standing, radically improper.

Now, if a body be, to the senses, modified by the action :f
animal food ; if it be enlarged, and bloated, and reddened, it
must necessarily happen that by its abstraction these effects
must cease, and appearances the very opposite of these may be
expected to take place, that is to say, the body may be ex-
pected to diminish, and to condense, and to become paler. If
the face be highl}'^ colored or flushed, it may be expected to
lose in a measure this appearance. A load of fat, which is but
an incumbrance to its bearer, may perhaps vanish, and so the
clothes may hang about the body. But if neither this color
nor this fatness be health, nor indicative of health, what is there
to fear from the loss of them ? If, on the contrary, these ap-
pearances are wholly morbid, we surely ought rather to be
pleased than mortified that we have got rid of them.J

* I need hardly say, of animals not by nature caniivorous. Chicken are
probably, in some degree, omnivorous. Though seeds is their favorite
food, they would, I suppose, pick up insects, worms, slugs, etc.

t Mr. Malthus was, I have little doubt, deceived from not making this
distinction. He says, " Even in Norway, notwithstanding the disadvan-
tage of a severe and uncertain climate, from the little 1 saw in a few
weeks' residence in the country, and the information I could collect from
others, I am inclined to thiiuk that the poor were, on the average, better
off than in England. Their houses and clothing were superior, and
though they had no white bread, they had much more meat, fish, and
milk than our laborers ; and I particularly remarked that the farmers'
boys were much stouter and healthier-looking lads than those of the same
description in England." If such a diet gave a more healthy race of
people than one that was principally farinaceous, all that I have said must
be wrong. But the tables of mortality prove the contrary ; and, there-
fore, these appearances of stoutness and good looks, in the younger part
of the community, are not indicative of superior health.

t That the mere loss of flesh, and, to some degree, strength circum
stances which must sometimes, though by no means always, occur on
commencing vegetable diet, are not necessarily un&vorable, is abundantly



r\ CHRONIC DISEASES. 73

I cannot doubt that, as a general rule, it may be safely assert-
ed that the florid are less healthy than those who have little
color. An increase of color has been ever judged to be a sign
of impending illness. " If a man becomes fuller," says one of
the ancients, "and better looking, and with more color than
usual, he ought to consider these blessings as suspicious." Our
own vulgar, at this day, if told that they look much better than
usual, regard it as a sign of approaching disease. How many,
with what is thought the glow of health on their cheeks, are
inwardly tabid ? How many on the verge of the grave, about
to be cut off by an acute illness ? Every day gives such pain-
ful examples of these truths, that I should be ashamed to urge
them, had I not heard even experienced medical practitioners
refer to the fine color of the cheek as a proof of good health.
The young lady who last gave occasion to this remark, has
since, I believe, died of consumption.

It seems very evident that our general manner of hfe tends
to load the head, and give an unnatural fuUness to the face. This
has given us ideas both of beauty and proportion, which are far
from just, as not coinciding with th^ most perfect specimens of
the human form. It has corrupted even the taste of our paint-
ers. I have heard from an eminent artist, that the custom of
painting children with the cheeks enormously swollen is con-
fined to the modern school ; that it was not practiced by the
ancient sculptors or painters. Though a well colored and full
face cannot be otherwise than pleasing, yet it may be often ob-
served in union with a narrow chest, shrunk limbs, and a tumid
belly. Many an anxious mother says of her child, that its face
is the only part about it which looks well. lso\y if, in such a
case, by any course of dieting for medicine is wholly out of the
question we can strengthen the limbs, cause the chest to ex-
pand, and the abdomen to shrink, we should hail these changes
as signs of highly improved health. If then it should happen,
at the same time, that the face becomes less full, and the color
less florid, we ought certainly to reckon this fullness and color
to be morbid, and as such be happy at the loss of it.

It aftbrds no trifling grounds of suspicion against the use of
animal food, that it so obviously inclines to corpulency. On

proved by ihe success of the hunger cure, which I have seen pracliced ia
Germany. If a person is losing bad flesh, which, under a properly re-
gulated vegetable diet, must often be the case, he is certain of growing
stronger again as he gets better muscle. Flesh is absolutely no criterion
of health, nor is a temporary loss of strength any evidence that an indivi-
dual is growing worse. S.
4



74 VEG.l TABLE DIET

this subject the reasonmg of Dr. Arbuthnot is unanswerable.
" You may see an army of forty thousand foot- soldiers without
a fat man, and I dare affirm that by plenty and rest twenty of
the forty shall grow fat," Corpulency is of itself a species of
disease, and a still surer harbinger of other diseases. It is so
even in animals. When a sheep has become fat, the butcher
knows it must be killed or it will rot and decline. It is rare
indeed for the corpulent io be long-lived. They are at the same
time sleepy, lethargic, and short-breathed. Thus Hippocrates
says, " those who are ur*commonly fat die more quickly than
the lean." The monstrous and bloated form which the human
body occasionally assumes, is a more pointed satire upon the
customs which engender it, than any which can be conveyed
by words. He that runs may read.*

* This paragraph of Dr. Lanibe's brings to mind a mostbarlarous prac-
tice with which I became acquainted in Earape, a knowledge of which
may be gained from the following extracts from my note book, written
while in the old country :

" I presume most persons have heard something of the process of fatten?-
ing geese for the purpose of enlarging their livers, which are considered
by the eating and drinking gentry in the old country a great rarity. Thia
business, revolting as it is bothlo the feelings and taste of a person of un-
depraved appetite, is made a regular occupation in certain parts. Men and
women both follow the art of thus fattening geese as their only means of
getting a worldly subsistence. It is carried on principally in Belgium.
The mode is as follows : Geese of a suitable size are nailed with their
feet upon a board, a T-headed nail and a piece of leather being used for
each foot. (I do not know whether women engage in this part of the
operation.) The animals thus fastened are set before afire. This is done
to cause a feverishness in their systems, through which they becama
very thirsty. Pots of milk are then set by them, of which they drink
freely to quench the thirst. After this they are fed with a dough of
Indian meal as long as they will eat. More is then forced into their
throats, and pressed down their neck into the stomach. This is a prac-
tice that requii-^s tact, otherwise the animals would become choked.
After this ' stuffing,' as it is called, they are put away in a dark place to
sleep. Three times in the forenoon, and the same in the afternoon, the
geese are thus placed before the fire and fed. At the end of three weeks
they have become so fat and stupid they are nearly on the point of dying.
They are then killed to save them, their bodies being almost an entire
mass of fat, with livers also fat and most enormously enlarged. With
these are made the famous 'fat goose liver pies.''

*'The best and most cosily of these articles are made in Strasburg, to which
city the livers are taken from Belgium. One liver, with a portion of
fat pork, the whole being surrunded with very rich pastry, is sufficient
for two pies, each of which are sold in London and Paris at one pound
sterling. The pie is transported in a circular box, about the size of a
three-quart measure. We see many of these in the windows of the higher
victualing shops and pastry establishments of Paris, and sometimes in Lon-
don. They are considered by many as being a great rarity. The poor
and laboring part of the community cannot of course indulge in so d-



IN CHROMC SEA.ES. 75

I would not have it supposed, however (as ignorance is apt
to imagine), that great paleness, or great leanness, is a neces-
sary consequence of a vegetable regimen. Many who are lean
upon animal food thrive upon vegetables, and improve in color.
I could cite numerous examples of persons perfectly well nour-
ished, and not only enjoying, but having every external sign of
perfect health, on a strict vegetable regimen. Mr. Luckcock
gained a few pounds in weight by relinquishing animal food.
He says that a young boy, a son of his own, upon the same
diet enjoys excellent health. Mr. Lawrence, assistant-surgeon
of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in a twelvemonth increased in
weight nine pounds, upon a vegetable regimen. Dr. A. P,
Buchan, physician to the Westminster Hospital, told me that,
when a young man, he lived three years upon vegetables, and
was never in better health. And I hear that there are four
hundred persons at Manchester, who at this time abstain from
animal food, influenced by rehgious principles, and that they
enjoy at least as good if not better health than their fellow-
townsmen. More particularly I have not been informed. All
the notions of vegetable diet affording only a deficient nutriment,
notions which are countenanced by the language of Cullen and
other great physicians, are wholly groundless. They have been
founded upon observations of its effects on great invalids. Such
subjects may possibly shrink and become pale. It is enough,
surely, if such persons can prolong their lives, though it may
be at the expense of their looks. To exchange a pale face for
a premature shroud appears to me but a sorry bargain.

I hear much gabble about giving people proper support, and
am told that the feeble require what they call nourishing things.
I do not think it worth while to insist upon perfect strictness,
where the ultimate advantage is not likely to be great ; nor is
it very politic in a practitioner to recommend with earnestness
what it is probable will never be attended to. But we are here
discussing principles. I would fain ask, then, whether it does
not appear that these feeble and debihtated persons have not, for
the most part, passed a day without laying in a plentiful store
of tliese nourishing things ; and whether having been nourished
into their present state of debility, it is likely that they can, by
pursuing the same methods, be nourished out of it ? I would
ask the more reflecting and better informed, whether the Hip-

sii'able a luxury. I have thought the pork pie a common thing in the
eating-houses of New York disgusting enough, but it will be conceded,
I think, that in comparison with the fat goose liver pie it is quite a proper
dish." S.



76 VEGETABLE DIET

pocratic maxim is not founded in truth, which declares : " In
bodies that are not pure, the more you nourish them, the more
you injure them?"

It is said that there are great varieties of constitution, which
produce corresponding varieties of diseases, and that it is im-